China Air Pollution

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, China has abundant tourism resources, the vast majority of which are of great renown. However, the number of tourists visiting China declined from 2013, mostly due to its increasingly serious air pollution. Many cities have been adversely affected by hazy weather since the beginning of 2013. This is especially true of central and eastern China’s cities such as Tangshan, Jinan, Zhengzhou, and Xi'an for example.

It is known to all that the rapid development of China’s economy in the past 30 years resulted in environmental degradation. Nevertheless, the hazy weather records of China in 2013 attracted global attention. It is a pity that as a consequence some foreign residents choose to give up their jobs and life in China.

China Air Pollution Map

As what can be seen from the above map, central China, eastern and south China are the most effected districts, especially the Yangtze River Delta including Shanghai. Not without consequence, this air pollution map is almost the same as the map of China’s population distribution.  The air quality is good in most part of northern and northwest China. Furthermore, the hazy weather has obvious seasonal characteristic, which usually occurs in the autumn and winter.


Air Quality Index (AQI)

As the new standard of measurement for air quality, AQI is a quantitative description of the air quality index. The major pollutants involved in the analysis including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), inhalable particles (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO). Here PM2.5 and PM10 are measured in micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3).

According to “Technical Regulation on Ambient Air Quality Index (on trial)”, AQI is divided into six levels in total, with Level one being the best and Level six being the worst.


AQI and Health Implications

AQI Air Quality Health Implications
0–50 Excellent No air pollution.
51–100 Good Few hypersensitive individuals should reduce the time for outdoor activities.
101–150 Lightly Polluted Slight irritations may occur, children, and those who with breathing or heart problems should reduce outdoor exercise.
151–200 Moderately Polluted Irritations may occur, and it may have an impact on healthy people’s heart and / or respiratory system, so all people should reduce the time for outdoor exercise.
201–300 Heavily Polluted Healthy people will be noticeably affected. People with breathing or heart problems will lack exercise tolerance. Those patients, children and elders should remain indoors.
300+ Severely Polluted Even healthy people will lack endurance during activities. There may be strong irritations and symptoms. So all people should avoid outdoor activities.

Air Quality Rankings of Chinese Major Tourist Cities in 2019

Rank City Province belongs to AQI Air Quality Level PM2.5 PM10
1 Lijiang Yunnan 11 Excellent 6 10
2 Lhasa Tibet 15 Excellent 2 17
3 Nanning Guangxi 19 Excellent 11 17
4 Tianjin Tianjin 21 Excellent 16 33
5 Yinchuan Ningxia 24 Excellent 10 36
6 Baotou Inner Mongolia 25 Excellent 11 21
7 Datong Shanxi 26 Excellent 14 22
8 Dali Yunnan 27 Excellent 8 35
9 Changchun Jilin 28 Excellent 14 28
10 Sanya Hainan 28 Excellent 16 23
11 Haikou  Hainan 32 Excellent 12 35
12 Kunming Yunnan 37 Excellent 27 36
13 Guangzhou Guangdong 38 Excellent 28 40
14 Guiyang Guizhou 39 Excellent 27 34
15 Xiamen Fujian 40 Excellent 27 36
16 Shijiazhuang Hebei 44 Excellent 8 46
17 Lanzhou Gansu 44 Excellent 20 47
18 Shenzhen Guangdong 45 Excellent 31 59
19 Hohhot Inner Mongolia 46 Excellent 20 39
20 Qingdao Shandong 55 Good 11 59
21 Chongqing Chongqing 55 Good 49 56
22 Zhangjiakou Hebei 56 Good 34 76
23 Shengzhen Guangdong 57 Good 39 54
24 Shengyang Liaoning 58 Good 14 66
25 Fuzhou Fujian 59 Good 33 67
26 Dalian Liaoning 61 Good 14 72
27 Jinan Shandong 69 Good 8 88
28 Zhangjiajie Hunan 74 Good 67 75
29 Taiyuan Shanxi 77 Good 18 102
30 Shanghai Shanghai 77 Good 59 65
31 Wuhan Hubei 78 Good 75 62
32 Xining Qinghai 78 Good 51 75
33 Zhengzhou Henan 80 Good 20 117
34 Hangzhou Zhejiang 90 Good 73 94
35 Suzhou Jiangsu 96 Good 73 92
36 Beijing Beijing 100 Good 66 94
37 Chengdu Sichuan 107 Lightly Polluted 92 114
38 Guilin Guangxi 109 Lightly Polluted 89 105
39 Changsha Hunan 117 Lightly Polluted 93 75
40 Luoyang Henan 124 Lightly Polluted 95 126
41 Yangzhou Jiangsu 137 Lightly Polluted 102 162
42 Harbin Heilongjiang 149 Lightly Polluted 113 153
43 Xi'an Shaanxi 168 Moderately Polluted 154 159
44 Urumqi Xinjiang 264 Heavily Polluted 222 115
45 Hefei Anhui 268 Heavily Polluted 217 205
46 Nanjing Jiangsu 302 Heavily Polluted 245 291

Note: AQI and Air Quality Level may vary day by day; the data here is just average value for reference only.
- Last modified on Apr. 26, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Air Pollution
Asked by Melanie Jackson from USA | Jun. 09, 2019 14:25Reply
Wondering if I will need a filtered face mask for China in October?
We will be traveling to Bejing, Shanghai, Xi’an and Chengdu the last half of October 2019. I have seen several sites with varying pollution indices, from 100-250 for these cities. So I’m wondering if a mask is best?
Answers (1)
Answered by Aaryn from POLAND | Jun. 10, 2019 23:23

Generally speaking, the pollution problem won't be so serious during that period of time. But you'd better to bring the face mask.
Asked by Lukas Petersson from SWEDEN | Apr. 26, 2019 07:23Reply
Zhengzhou, Jining or Yantai? Going for 6 weeks in July.
I am going to either Zhengzhou, Jining or Yantai in July for 6 weeks to train Kung Fu. what will be the air quality of these places during that time? should this heavily affect my decision on which city to go to?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jacob from CANADA | May. 09, 2019 18:26

Lukas, generally speaking, the air pollution won't be that serious during that period of time. It won't influence the sightseeing. Have a nice journey!
Asked by Erik Craig from UNITED STATES | Mar. 30, 2019 21:29Reply
I'm hoping to visit Nanjing at the end of August and early September this year
and am concerned about air quality at that time of the year. I was there last November and had to cut my trip short by three days as the air was so bad.
Answers (1)
Answered by Sally from BELGIUM | Mar. 31, 2019 19:56

Generally, the air quality in Nanjing from June to September is much better than any other time.
Asked by LASI | Jan. 09, 2019 09:38Reply
Hello, would you tell me please what is the average AQI in Hong Kong in late April?
Answers (1)
Answered by Andy from CANADA | Jan. 09, 2019 18:42

Hi, the AQI of HK at present is about 40 but I can't find the data in April.
Asked by Rachel from SINGAPORE | Dec. 08, 2018 07:04Reply
What is Taiyuan air quality from March to September?
I’m thinking of going to a overseas internship at Taiyuan but I heard that the air quality there is not good. Should I consider going there? I’ll be going there for 6 months from March to September.
Answers (1)
Answered by Anna from AUSTRALIA | Dec. 09, 2018 22:27

Hi, you don't need to worry too much. Generally, the air quality will be terrible in winter, but it's okay in other seasons. Also, you can prepare some anti-haze masks.
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